New Steelers mural sets stage for grand entrance into Edinboro

Category:  Sports
Friday, September 6th, 2019 at 11:50 AM
New Steelers mural sets stage for grand entrance into Edinboro by Paul Petrianni
George Humes adds details to Hines Ward as he works on the second take of his local Steelers mural. A fire damaged the previous mural. | Paul Petrianni

When alumni return to Edinboro’s campus for the 2019 edition of Homecoming, taking their foot off the gas and letting the downhill momentum of Route 6N guide them into town, they might notice a new addition to the scenery. Especially if they’re a fan of the “Black and Gold.”

George Humes — artist behind the original Pittsburgh Steelers mural, located on the side of what has been Edinboro Auto and then Coyne’s Auto — is back at the building and updating his work. A fire damaged the first mural.

Humes, originally from Pittsburgh, is a graduate of Edinboro University who went on to teach art in the Harbor Creek School District for 36 years. He’s lived in Edinboro for around 35 years, with his children also being alumni of the university.

“In my time as an art teacher (at Harbor Creek), I sent literally hundreds of students to pursue the study of art at Edinboro University,” he said.
In addition to teaching, Humes has been quite busy in the art discipline since his graduation from ‘Boro, working for sports magazines and for a number of different commercial art projects.

“After graduation, I went on to do a ton of commission art for the Steelers, Pirates and some work for the Penguins. However, most of my work was done for the Steelers. Having the ability to get autographs as well as meet many of my favorite players was one of the best parts of the job,” he explained.

A new friendship

A broken-down truck would develop into a friendship that’s lasted a lifetime for Humes. Following a recommendation from a friend, the artist would take this truck to Dana Volkman, who was the owner of Edinboro Auto.

“After my truck breaks down, I walk up to the garage and see a Steelers truck outside. The garage has black and gold stripes running across it. When I meet the guy and walk into his office, it’s all black and gold with Steelers memorabilia everywhere…I think to myself, ‘man this is going to work out just fine,’” said Humes.

After many years of friendship and hundreds of favors done for one another, Volkman offered Humes the opportunity of a lifetime.
He explained: “I was telling Dana, I really enjoy doing murals, but I’ve never had the opportunity to do one by myself. I was always working with other artists doing something we were getting paid to do. Dana then offered to me, why don’t you do one on my building?”

A back-and-forth discussion commenced between the two on the details of the mural, until they decided to focus it on the Steelers teams of the 1970s, which was home to 13 eventual Hall of Fame players and multiple Super Bowl titles. This first mural was completed in 2000.

“I’ve done many amazing artistic things in this town, [and] that mural was the defining piece of my career,” said Humes.

A fire eight years ago did significant damage to the inside of the garage and extended to the outside of the building and Humes’ piece. He is now in the process of updating the mural on that same wall. The Steelers will still be the focus of the project, with new players and different images (and it helps that Pittsburgh has won additional Super Bowl titles since 2000, in 2005 and 2008). You can see the artist outside the building, slowly adding pieces back to the wall, including Hines Ward, the first subject he’s working on. 

A GoFundMe has also been launched to help support the updating of the mural, as well as for repairs to the inside of the former garage. According to the campaign, “Dana and his friends and family replaced the roof, but major electrical and plumbing work, as well as cleaning and painting still need done” on the building.

Head over to their GoFundMe to find out more information about the campaign.

“A lot of people that come to Edinboro University are from Pittsburgh — a lot. So, by creating the original mural, it might have worked as a selling point to let incoming students from Pittsburgh know they will be well represented here.”

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